Thoughts on learning from scriptural prophesy.
Significant portions of Judeo-Christian canon is devoted to history. Some of this is mundane history, like accounts of wars and political intrigues and how various kings built their homes and so on. Some is more exotic history, like the plagues of Egypt or the Tower of Babel. But in both cases, it’s a lot of what happened without the explicit voice of God.
In my experience, most people when reading such history assume that if there is benefit to be gained from it that benefit is contained in spiritual parallels. Why do we care about the walls of Jericho falling? Because it is a symbol of God’s power, or of the obedience of the people, or of patience, or of the ability of God to get past seemingly insurmountable obstacles, etc. Very rarely do we talk about it as a historical event that confirmed the public perception of the Hebrews that the genocide of the Canaanites was a good thing.
The scriptures also contain many prophesies. Daniel chapter 11 is a classical example, though most are more allegorical like Daniel chapters 2 and 8, the Revelation of John, and Jacob 5. These are also histories in their way, just histories that hadn’t yet happened when they were recorded and some of which still haven’t happened.
One of the things that puzzles me about how prophesies are discussed is that I rarely hear the same kind of spiritual-parallel discussion I do with post hoc histories. Presentations on Daniel 2, for example, often stop with a listing of which government the presenter believes each of the body parts represent. Rarely do I hear “why would God reveal this to Nebuchadnezzar?” or “What can this history tell us about our personal lives?”
I sometimes like to think of the scriptures like wrapped presents. A lot of people seem content to remove the wrapping paper without opening the box inside. History is still just history and of little spiritual merit if you stop there. Even when that history is miraculous and known in advance, I still find there is quite a lot to learn from it beyond just what did/will happen.